Popping the…

12 04 2009


I WOKE up home alone today… and not knowing if I want to have breakfast or not.  I dragged myself out of bed, felt with my feet the pile of footwear on the floor.  Found my black-and-yellow crocs™ flip-flop.  Slid it on.


Off I went to the trusty old refrigerator.  Half-asleep still, I flung its creaking door open and surveyed the contents.


A clipped already-open bag of SaladTime Arugula & Mixed Greens.  Maybe later for lunch.  A 500-gram block of tofu.  Surely for later at lunch.  A half-gallon tub of Magnolia Nestle Super Mocha Ice Cream.  Definitely for later after lunch.  And it went on, until I parted the line of 1.5-liter bottles of soda water, and found this – D-Wayan Cherry Wine.  This must have been in cold storage for at least three months now!


My first ever cherry wine experience!


I “popped” the “cork,” so to speak, and enjoyed my “first” taste of a wine pressed from a fuit other than grapes.  As the label says, “indigenous wine brewed from organic mountain fruit.”  You see, the nice thing about having an organic food product is that you will understand EVERYTHING you read on the ingredients label.  Case in point here: “fresh cherry fruit, sugar, indigenous yeast, water.”  That simple!


I don’t know what consumed me but I ended up having this wine for “breakfast.”  Talk about taking something 11.3% alcohol by volume first thing in the morning!  Surprisingly, I liked it when I sipped it, especially since the wine-connoisseur-wannabe in me didn’t actually respond favorably to the whiff I caught when the “cork” was first “popped” (there’s that word again!).  But it was good.  It was really sweet, so definitely not for the ones after really dry wine.  Being really sweet, the bitterness is masked, only to reveal itself as an after-taste that was almost like shandygaff.


I know what you’re saying, cherry wine couldn’t be all for breakfast!  I’ve got to have something else.  So I reached for the ice cream.


And I finished it off!


I finished this off - Magnolia Nestle Super Mocha Ice Cream. Sarrrap!!!



Sylvia and Jill – teacher and student are now both masters

12 04 2009


I’VE ALREADY professed my love for Chef Jessie Sinsioco here.  This time, I’d have to do the same for two more artists of consummate skill in the arena of Philippine cuisine – Jill Sandique and Sylvia Reynoso-Gala.


I have been a faithful follower of Secrets of the Masters since it started, but quite obviously, I haven’t been able to write about what I think of each episode – of each chef actually – since I’ve been quite swamped at work.


But I just have to for these two ladies.  (And as you shall see towards the end, for Ms. Issa Litton too!)


CHEF JILL SANDIQUE’s episode is airing right now, as I write.  I first saw her as the special guest judge in a Ka-Toque cook-off (among the show’s resident chefs).  I haven’t heard about her then.  And she wasn’t giving highfalutin critique of any of the dishes that was presented to her.  I mean, she wasn’t speaking to “impress” the televiewers.  But I did feel already that she was a young force in the culinary industry.  How?  I could tell it from the way each Ka-Toque chef was painfully shy – a bit afraid even, I guess – in presenting to Chef Jill Sandique his or her creation.  It was a case of a barely discernable smirk or a slight pursing of the lips that could spell doom.  It was as if Chef Jill didn’t need to speak at all and they would already know if the dish would have better been left in the kitchen.


Tonight, she whipped up a menu that started with an appetizer, a salad, then a main course, and of course, a dessert.  My use of “of course” in the previous sentence is beyond the need for an adverb.  It is in the literal “as-might-be-expected” sense, especially since Chef Jill is well-known to be one of our country’s top pastry chefs.  Her cheesecake is the stuff of legend!  (eNTeNG’s Note:  I haven’t tasted it yet though.)


For the “first dish” a.k.a. appetizer, she made a Tomato & Chorizo Quiche Pinoy Style, served with baby arugula on the side!  Now, how can a savory quiche go wrong with my favorite greens on the side?!  Chef Jill and Issa agreed that the secrets to a quiche are the custard base and the crust.  Her salad course, Mesclun of Baby Greens with Dried Kamias Vinaigrette, takes the cake for creativity!  She used dried kamias – picked and dried by herself! – as the star ingredient that infused the characteristic flavor to her vinaigrette.  She didn’t put mustard at all because, in her own words, she wasn’t going for a classic dressing.  Undeniably, the salad fuses all the basic tastes into a melange of flavors that can only be truly Filipino!  Duck Braised in Basi Vinegar, Muscovado Sugar & Star Anise was in store for the main course, served with Stewed Fruits of dried mangoes, figs and raisins on the side.  I don’t really crave duck – except for The Good Earth Tea Room’s “Duckquitos” – but what Chef Jill prepared with a distinctive Ilocano flavor cooked in the Visayan way was really something.  The combination of the sour (vinegar), sweet (sugar) and fragrant (star anise) very well summed up that what Chef Jill was preparing could simply be a “Duck Humba.”  It sure looked yummy, and as always, Issa made a genuine assessment of the dish (I loved how she compared and contrasted duck and chicken meat!).  Mad brownie points for Chef Jill as well for showing two ways to prepare it – “isang pang-restaurant, isang pambahay” (one of the restaurant, one for home).  Capping off a fantabulous night, she made a towering “summer Christmas tree” that was her Mango & Walnut Torte, made of classic meringue kisses (baked from scratch – oh, can this be store-bought?), whipped cream, and fresh mangoes.  Crispy, chewy, sweet, and creamy all at the same time!


The one thing I really loved about Chef Jill Sandique was how sincerely and profusely she paid tribute to her mentors – the Ms. Glenda Baretto of Via Mare fame, and the Ms. Sylvia Reynoso-Gala who she called as her first teacher on professional cooking and baking.  It all the more made sense to me that her episode is coming right on the heels of Ms. Reynoso-Gala’s that was shown last week.


Clearly, the teacher and the student are now both masters!


CHEF SYLVIA REYNOSO-GALA’s episode was the most fun I’ve seen.  It’s just too bad I wasn’t able to write real-time then.  But I do remember that hers was the most family fun episode too as she brought along her very well-brought-up and very amiable children Chefs Morella (did I get it right?) and Ernest (whose column in the papers I follow).  For someone of her stature in the industry, it was very refershing to see her so warm, so motherly.  Without a doubt, a lot of wannabe chefs can take a cue from her on how not to be consumed with all the “celebrity.”  She also kept saying that she doesn’t believe in keeping her culinary secrets to herself.  She shares them!  Which I guess is the ultimate secret of her decades-long culinary school, itself an institution here in the country.  I loved it that her episode made use of one technique for all her dishes – cooking or baking in the oven.  The Roast Beef Wrapped in Bacon, the Roast Spanish Chicken (Pollo Iberico), and the baked fish dish were all mouth-watering!  And oh, I remember she made some kind of Greek or Mediterranean salad too.  She used feta cheese but also offered the tip to use our local “kesong puti” (cottage cheese) instead.  This cheese she said to be “lasang langit!” (heavenly divine).


The one thing that really jumps off from the screen the whole time I was watching Chef Sylvia was her humility in light of all the success she has had.  And yes, her very perceptible love for her family.  All I can say is that she is in the perfect profession to profess her love – for her work and for the people she nourishes with her work.



And now, something about the Issa Litton!

Issa Litton is really growing on me!  I guess that I’ve never seen her at her best as a host than on this show.  I like it that she has become really effective in putting into words the experience of trying each dish the masters whip up.  I have to say that hers is quite a very enviable position!  Hahaha!  On a lighter sidenote, she subliminally sends off the message that we can eat most anything and still look great – it’s all a matter of a holistic lifestyle.  And I guess, everything in moderation.  And one more thing, I like her hosting skills in the sense that she doesn’t allow any “dead air” on the show.  I mean, the master chefs sometimes get to be at a loss for words as they get all caught up in the execution of their art.  It’s on these instances that Issa articulates whatever’s going on – with perfect timing, almost impeccable enunciation, and never overdone.  She looks brainy, never at the mercy of a teleprompter.  Great job!




Joseph Schmidt Confections® Chocolate Carrot Box

12 04 2009


I PRACTICALLY do not throw away anything.


My six-year old JOSEPH SCHMIDT CONFECTIONS® Chocolate Carrot Box!


But at least I try.  Hahaha!  You see, this week-long break almost afforded me the opportunity to edit whatever remains of my humble collections.  But then again, with a lot of things on my mind (“YOU are always on my mind…”), I didn’t get to throw anything away.


But that is not saying that I didn’t get to go through stuff.  Because, I did.


I opened the box and found inside the pretty yellow ribbon it originally came tied with.


And I was so surprised to see again this very special chocolate box – the JOSEPH SCHMIDT CONFECTIONS® Chocolate Carrot Box!  I bought three of these at BORDERS Books, Music & Café on East Bidwell Street in Folsom, California on Easter Sunday, 2003.  That’s six years ago!


I got this for $14.99 each! Good thing it was exempted from the California state tax (a whopping 7.75%)!



In good company – the JOSEPH SCHMIDT CONFECTIONS® Chocolate Carrot Box among other boxes 🙂


Holding this exquisite (and obviously quite sturdy) fancy chocolate box in my hand, I saw flashing scenes of that day when these caught my eye on the display near the cashiers.  For some reason, I was really sad that day (probably homesick) and I wasn’t really speaking with anybody.  I left most of my friends shooting hoops at the apartment complex.  Somehow, this handcrafted carrot box cheered me up.  As you can see from the receipt (see, I keep everything!), I actually got three.


My official receipt for getting three of these JOSEPH SCHMIDT CONFECTIONS® Chocolate Carrot Boxes. $44.97 in all.


This is what the accompanying card says:


“Joseph Schmidt offers you the tiniest of his truffles – petit morsels of rich Belgian chocolate surrounding velvety truffle filling made with fresh cream.  Perfect size to offer after dinner.


These petit truffles are packaged in a beautiful handcrafted carrot box with the following chocolates:


14 Petit Truffles

7 White – Double Latté filling

7 Dark – All Dark filling”



That little card says it all! The box held petit morsels of rich Belgian chocolate surrounding velvety truffle filling made with fresh cream.


I had gone to and taken my picture at the JOSEPH SCHMIDT CONFECTIONS® flagship store in SanFo.  Too bad, I had lost all ~8GB’s worth of travel pictures to a hard disk crash.  Yeah, I hear what you may be saying now, “BACKUP!”


Have I had everything on print, they would have had a better chance of survival…  much like this pretty carrot box!  Hahaha!




eNTeNG’s 25

10 04 2009

Totally unrelated to this post. Haha! Just dug this up during the week-long break. Taken on a dinner-out with Friendship and Mother.


UPON MY friends’ prodding, I signed up for a Facebook account.  But it didn’t take a long while for me to figure out one thing – I couldn’t keep up with Facebook!  To my friends, I’m almost always the one they will name when asked as to who among they know is the most relentless – nagging even!  But when I got on Facebook, I realized I couldn’t really stand being on the receiving end of a “poke” or a “tag.”  Talk about getting a dose of my own medicine!


But if there’s one thing I think I could succumb to, it’s making this random list of 25.  (I’ve been told that being “tagged” to do this on Facebook has spread like forest fire in the dry Outback.)  Things “random” appeal to me.  I even made a category here just for my own “random musings.”  Hahaha!


So here it is, my list of 25 random things – yes, 25 things I love! – mostly about food.  They are in no particular order (again, “random”!).  I just have to sort of count them down from 25.


25.    I have a very weird snacking habit.  I can devour a whole pound of cooked ziti pasta.  Yes, you read it right – just cooked pasta WITHOUT any sauce.  On other days, I would munch on bunches of fresh coriander.  Clearly, popcorn is not my idea of snacking while watching my favorite TV shows.


24.    Unlike, most people, I adore in-flight cuisine!  I particularly love Singapore Airlines’, especially whenever they have their chef specials right around the holidays.  Air India still makes the best curry for me (I had second helpings!).  And Philippine Airlines will always be memorable to me.  I gained appreciation of – and long-standing romance with – enoki (winter) mushrooms on board one of their flights.


Some of the in-flight menus I have saved through the years.


23.    I collect in-flight menus.  But I politely ask the attendants first if I could keep a copy before I stash it away.  Another would be room service menus.  Again, I’d ask first before I keep anything!  And oh, I keep all my restaurant receipts too!


Yet another shot of the in-flight menus.


22.    My favorite salad green is arugula.  I like its slightly bitter, peppery taste and its succulent, slightly thick fleshy leaves.  So I always get SaladTime’s “Arugula & Mixed Greens.”  For some reason, I couldn’t find what is commonly known in the U.S. as “garden rocket” or even what Chef Jessie Sinsioco refers to as “micro-arugula.”


21.     When I read somewhere that Aga Muhlach’s personal chef would make him an all-eggwhite omelet as part of his diet, I started to make the same – my own version, my own recipe! – for one of my best friends who happens to be a health buff.  Mine would call for provolone cheese and fresh white button mushrooms.  Unfortunately, I still couldn’t find provolone locally!  So I’d settle for the next best thing – the Australian COON Light & Tasty 25% Less Fat Shredded Natural Cheddar Cheese!


For my all-eggwhite omelet, I first saute the sliced Tuscan Fields fresh white (or Swiss Brown) button mushrooms in 100% pure canola oil (or light extra virgin olive oil).



I couldn't find provolone. But this does just fine!


20.    My dream all-eggwhite omelet recipe would be made out of, of course, eggwhites, fontina cheese, chives, and shaved fresh truffles (from Italy)!  Yummy!


19.     Growing up, my favorite local chocolates were Serg’s “Mocca” bars, Goya’s block chocolate, and Ricoa Flat Tops!  Too bad, I don’t think they make Serg’s anymore.


18.     Among imported chocolates, I intensely love Godiva (their boxed sets are really pretty); Leonidas for their pralines and truffles; and, ROYCE’   for so many things!  Among their variants – that I have tried and shared with Superman – I particularly love the NAMA CHOCOLATE CHAMPANGE PIERRE MIGNON, NAMA CHOCOLATE AU LAIT, NAMA CHOCOLATE MILD COCOA, NAMA CHOCOLATE STRAWBERRY, Pure Chocolate (Venezuela Bitter & Ghana Sweet), Coffee Chocolate, Prafeuille Chocolat Coffee Chocolate, and PotatoChip Chocolate.


All the way from the Greenbelt 5 store...



...to a superhero's desk!



For sentimental reasons, I've kept the wrapper of my very first Royce' chocolates, handcarried from Singapore!


17.      I’m particularly proud of my chicken tinola.  I make my chicken broth the same way chefs Jessie Sinsioco, Gordon Ramsay, and Tyler Florence would make theirs.  Friendship calls me the “sabaw” king!  If I don’t have the time or the ingredients to make my chicken broth fresh, there’s always Swanson.


My chicken tinola up close. Postscript: I just had to cook this right after I made this post! Haha!


16.     Like Superman, I love macarons de Paris from BIZU PATISSERIE, in pistachio, coffee and caramel flavors!


15.     Of all media personalities, Daphne Osena Paez is the best food “critic.”  I mean, I trust her.  For me, nobody has come close to how she would account, describe, or share her gastronomical experiences on the now-defunct show “F.”  I guess it’s in the combination of her (palpable) sincerity, facial expressions and enunciation.  Oh, and the fact that she has got to be one of the smartest personalities to grace the boob tube ever.


14.     The best “spice” I’ve ever put on a bowl of Chinese noodles is ground green tea leaves.  I forgot the name of the dimsun place.  It’s a kiosk inside the Hong Kong International Airport, near a big book store.  From where I would sit, I’d see Starbucks directly below.


13.     I love New York Cheesecake from KRISPY KREME DOUGHNUTS®.  It’s their doughnut shell loaded with cheesecake filling and topped off with cream cheese icing and a very generous “dusting” of graham cracker crunch.  Spider-man loves it too, as well as the blueberry cheesecake.


A box of six Krispy Kreme doughnuts. The one on the bottom left is the New York Cheesecake I love so much!


12.     The Good Earth Tea Room makes the best chicken chow mein and black mushrooms with beancurd casserole.  Their duckquitos (roast peking duck with onion leeks and hoisin sauce in taco shells) are so worth coming back for!


11.      I get my tom yum goong (hot and sour shrimp soup) fix at tHAI AT SILK at the Serendra Piazza.


The elegant place setting at Thai At Silk.


10.     I’m not a huge sandwich fan.  But whenever I would decide to have one, it would only be one of three.  The roast beef sandwich at The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf (first had at the Alabang Town Center branch).  The crabstick sandwich at The Soup Kitchen (first at Glorietta 5).  And, the farmer’s ham ciabatta at Delifrance (first at the NAIA Terminal 2).  Superman finds the last one particularly fancy when I described it to him.  It’s actually slices of ham and brie cheese with an iceberg lettuce leaf in ciabatta bread spread with a raspberry dressing!


One of my (so far) three favorite sandwiches – the crabstick sandwich at The Soup Kitchen.


9.       The Danish butter cookies that I’ve never forgotten were of a brand called “Oxford.”  It was a gift.  I wasn’t able to find it anywhere.


8.       Brother and I would often pretend that we had officical business at our apartment’s admin office in the U.S. just so we could get our hands on the free Otis Spunkmeyer oatmeal cookies.  We’d shamelessly swipe off everything in sight (Haha!).  They later caught on.  Talk about being caught with our hands in the cookie jar.  Haha!


7.        Other people’s signature dishes that I love to bits are Mother’s adobo, Sister’s tortang talong, Therese’s barbecued baby back ribs, and (again) Therese’s pot roast.


6.       The one recipe I’ve been  meaning to try – for the longest time – is Rachael Ray’s Boeuf Bourguignon (“Beef Burgundy” or simply, beef in red wine).


5.        My most memorable past-midnight cravings were for Hainanese chicken rice.  I’ve had it twice at the Makati Shangri-La Hotel, and once at the Diamond Hotel Manila.  Makati Shangri-La’s was way better.  And more special too as they didn’t really have it on their coffee shop menu.  I wrote the chef a thank you note.


One of the Makati Shangri-La receipts. Hainanese Chicken Rice at 11:39PM! They punched it in as "open food" because the lobby lounge / coffee shop menu didn't really carry it! I wrote the chef a thank you note! To date, it has got to be the best I've ever had!



Room service for Hainanese Chicken Rice at 11:51PM at the Diamond Hotel in Manila.


4.       I get my cupcake fix only at – wherelse?! – Cupcakes BY SONJA.  Here in the Philippines, Sonja L. Ocampo is still the one and only cupcake rockstar!  Of her creations, my favorites are Bunny Huggers Carrot Cake, Melt-In-Your-Mouth Valrhona Flourless Chocolate Cake, Red Velvet Vixen, Choco Cream Cheese Swirl, and Pumpkin Sweet Spice (seasonal).  Spider-man adores the Bunny Huggers.  Superman likes them a lot too!


A stack of Sonja's pretty cupcake boxes. When Sonja learned I was blogging, she had her staff put this out, and even told me it was okay to style the cupcakes for my pictures. Such a nice lady!



This box of four went to Superman. A serious chocolate lover like this superhero likes the melt-in-your-mouth flourless Valrhona chocolate cake cupcake a lot!


3.       I still mourn the demise of the cookie dough flavor of HÄAGEN-DAZS®.  I love BEN&JERRY’S cookie dough too.  I’m just not sure if it is available locally.


I've kept these through the years – the boxes of the first (ice cream) snacks I've ever had in a moviehouse abroad! See – Ben&Jerry's!



Cookie dough is really my favorite. But on that first night, this had to do. Not bad at all really!


2.       I make the time to cook for someone.


1.        I still eat Cerelac!




Healthy Shabu-Shabu – and a movie – with Brother

9 04 2009

That's me – in my one and only Superman shirt! – enjoying my "free" Healthy Shabu-Shabu dinner!


IN JEST, I would always say, “How come a place that makes you cook your own dinner charges so much?!”  Hahaha!


Again, I would say that just in jest, especially since I am well-aware that shabu-shabu is a culinary practice steeped in tradition from the hinterlands of Japan and Korea, especially in the wintertime.  And while lately, a television commercial fosters the importance of family meal time, shabu-shabu has done and has been doing the same for hundreds of years.


But whenever I go have shabu-shabu, I would always prefer to have my own pot (whether with family or friends).  Which, conveniently, is how shabu-shabu places have set up their tables.  You get your own pot, you ask for your own set.


Shabu-shabu is nothing new to me.  I’ve loved it for quite a while.  I even had a phase in 2008, when I had to eat shabu-shabu for every single day, for five whole months!  Imagine that.  It came to a point when the wait staff already knew me and the time I would be coming in, that I was always assured a table would be waiting for me – not the other way around!  I was so addicted to shabu-shabu that even when my 87-year old grandmother was confined in the hospital, I (alone or with my brothers and a niece or a nephew) would sneak out to HEALTHY SHABU-SHABU at Alabang Town Center just so I could get my fix.


My addiction was so severe that Batman would understand when I would drag him to a shabu-shabu dinner either at the Alabang branch or at The Podium.  I guess there was even one time when even after we had eaten somewhere else (at The Podium), Batman still allowed me to indulge in a quick shabu-shabu fix.  Gosh!  As a consolation, I shared with him some of my food.  After all, I’m a good cook.  Hahaha!


But what I’m writing about now is one recent special shabu-shabu dinner – the belated celebration of Brother’s birthday.  And whenever I’m with Brother, not only do I get free rein in what to order, I don’t have to pay too.  Hahaha!


The soy-based sauce. To its left is the Korean sate sauce. I didn't need the chili (the server was new)... just the chopped scallions!


I guess the best thing about shabu-shabu is that it’s like having a blank canvass that you can color or flavor the way you want to.  At the center of the spread is the clear broth that you shall bring to a rolling boil (when it’s your first time at a shabu-shabu place, the wait staff will be glad to show you how to operate the burners).  Usually, the broth is made from chicken bones.  So free from any seasoning, you shall find the broth to be very clean-tasting.  In the way of condiments, you shall be given a small bowl of the soy-based sauce, the Korean sate sauce, fresh egg, minced fresh garlic, chopped scallions and sliced red labuyo chili.  The lover of hot and spicy food that I am, I’m surprised myself that when it comes to shabu-shabu, I veer away from even the slightest hint of chili!  All I use from this very generous selection is the soy-based sauce which I mix the Korean sate and chopped scallions into.  But the hardcore shabu-shabu fanatics put together everything – including the yolk of a fresh egg!


The standard shabu-shabu platter that comes with every order.



Notice that the server (she was new) didn't take out the glass noodles. I'm not crazy about noodles in my shabu-shabu.



The "fat" beef!



A serving of fresh, drool-worthy oysters! My mouth is watering just staring at this...


For this dinner, I asked for the fat beef set (thin slices of “fatty” beef, the more marbling the better!).  The slices of beef are served separately from the requisite shabu-shabu platter that contains a squid ball, a beef ball, tofu, taro root, a shiitake mushroom cap, a carrot slice, a tomato wedge, a corn slice, baby bok choy or taiwan pechay, baguio pechay, a crabstick, fish cake, thick egg noodles, and glass noodles (sotanghon).  Usually, I would ask for the noodles to be replaced by cups of rice (one for each noodle type).  For extra things on the side, I would always ask for a serving each of tofu, crabsticks, and fresh oysters!


Once I bring the broth to a rolling boil, I throw in the corn, shiitake mushroom, carrot, fish cake, squid ball, and beef ball.  Everything else would be dunk (for seconds only!) just when I would munch on them.  I NEVER put everything in the pot.  No, that’s not me.  The oysters, I nestle on the slotted spoon – one at a time – and dunk in for about 10 seconds only.  The leafy vegetables, I literally just dip in the boiling broth.  Then, I dip the food in my sauce and eat them with the rice.


Having shabu-shabu is a leisurely dinner thing.  It allows you to take your time and savor each dish component.  But mostly, it allows you to reconnect with somebody else.  After all, sharing a good conversation and a good laugh are key to an overall satisfying dinner experience.


That's the very generous Brother... Thanks for taking time out from DOTA and treating me to this sumptuous dinner! Hahaha!


But oh, there was one time I breezed through my shabu-shabu dinner in 15 minutes flat.  That was when Batman, Friendship and I had to make it to the screening of “27 Dresses.”  Good thing that on this dinner with Brother, we had a good lead time before Liam Neeson’s “Taken” started!



Selecta Gold Series Chocolate Truffles

9 04 2009


EVERY SPOONFUL, designed to delight.”  Thus declares Chef Rolando Laudico of Bistro Filipino fame.


The new Selecta Gold Series Chocolate Truffles Ice Cream.


Of all the advertisement I’ve seen on all glossies I could get my hands on during this week-long break, only one really demanded and captured my attention.  It was the one for the New Selecta Gold Series ice cream.  Visually, the black background really set off the contents of the ad (Friendship is a proponent of this black background visual graphics style).  Content-wise, the names of prominent Filipino chefs brandished on the three-page spread deserved at least one-pass reading.


The new Selecta Gold Series Chocolate Truffles Ice Cream... definitely for serious chocolate lovers!


The ad said that the three flavors were “created exclusively for you.”  And with three culinary masters taking different inspirations to deliver temptingly sounding and looking delights, I couldn’t help but really make a reminder on my planner to go out and grab tubs!  Chef Rolando Laudico (Bistro Filipino) created “Chocolate Truffles.”  Chef Sau Del Rosario (Chelsea Market & Café), “Hazelnut Brownie.”  Chef J. Gamboa (Cirkulo), “Berry Strawberry.”


Not only did I make a reminder for myself, I had to send out text messages to Spider-man, Batman, Summit, and Superman that they should also check these out too!  Summit texted back to say that she’s eyeing the Berry Strawberry.  Superman wished me to enjoy my pigging out (haha!) and mentioned that he liked the NSA (No Sugar Added) ice cream, the same one I got for my mother.  From the series, what I first got was the Chocolate Truffles.  The 1.66-liter tub cost Php 275.00.



So how did I find the ice cream?  Hmmm…  It was really rich and luxurious, no doubt about that.  I liked it that the chocolate ice cream itself was intense and more on the bitter side.  The hand-rolled chocolate truffles were VERY generously mixed into the ice cream – every spoonful I took had truffles.  On their own, the truffles literally tasted buttery to me.  It was really the ganache filling of truffles that they threw in.  And when we say “ganache,” what it is exactly is a half-and-half mixture of chocolate and cream.  So the (buttery) creamy goodness should be as expected.  To up the chocolate ante further, the ice cream was laced with ribbons of thick chocolate syrup.  You could see all of these in the pictures.



Serious chocolate lovers will love this.  That’s for sure.  I’m actually thinking about giving Superman the 1.66-liter tub for him to try.



“Extra” Extra Hot Chili

9 04 2009

ONE OF my guiltiest pleasures is Lucky Me! Pancit Canton Extra Hot Chili.


Only (at least) two packets of Lucky Me! Extra Hot Chili will do!


Not one packet, but two.  Always two for one serving!


And as if being the “Extra Hot Chili” variant would be enough – or even more – for one person to take, I would always reach out for my McCormick Ground Cayenne Pepper.  When I make my sauce mix, I always hit the flavor pack, soy sauce and oil with three dashes of the cayenne pepper.  Exactly three dashes!


The burst of red in this photo is courtesy of exactly three dashes of McCormick Ground Cayenne Pepper.


And this is how O.C. I could get with cooking the noodles.  I bring the water to a boil, throw in the noodles.  Time it for exactly one minute.  Take off the lid of the pan, stir the noodles.  Replace the lid.  Time it for exactly another minute.  Then, remove the lid and count exactly 30 seconds!  I turn off the fire.  Run cold tap water through the sink, then drain the noodles (but not under the running cold tap water!).  I run cold tap water just so I could take the steam down a little bit, as well as prevent the pipes from getting shocked.


I always use an alarm timer when I cook my noodles.  I would throw away batches that would appear or taste overcooked or soggy.


Once I mix the noodles well with the sauce, I hit it one more time with one dash of cayenne pepper.  Then  I top everything with blanched cabbage, baby bok choy, or “Pechay Baguio.”


My "extra" extra hot chili Lucky Me! Pancit Canton.


That’s how I want my instant pancit canton.


Even with just instant pancit canton, I've got to have my veggies!


The Soup Kitchen in Glorietta 5

9 04 2009

The very nice interiors of The Soup Kitchen at its new home in the new Glorietta 5.


ONE REASON I have kept coming back to the newly opened Glorietta 5 is because I have been craving for my favorite soup from – wherelse?! – The Soup Kitchen.  The first time I was there, the first level security guard politely told me that it (The Soup Kitchen) was still closed.  I took a moment’s pause as I gathered back my composure that got shaken by the unequivocal conviction with which he told me, “Sir, still closed.  Second level po yun.  Dun!”  Borrowing the signature pouting of a very Zoolander male model, he punctuated his sentence with the pursing of his lips towards the direction of panels of wood and tarpaulin that said something like “soon to open…”  I sort of got amused with this seemingly crafty (in a good way) guard that I quizzed him to no end about the many stores.  Pleasantly surprising, he knew everything about this new shopping and dining hub that is Glorietta 5.  So, mad props to the guy!


Returning a couple of weeks later, on the evening of the 9th of March, I found myself finally comfortably seated at the well-appointed The Soup Kitchen.  First thing that jumped right off to me was how much more spacious and better lit this new outlet was, compared to its Glorietta 1 predecessor.  I instantly took a mental note that I would definitely keep coming back to The Soup Kitchen to take my early evening light dinners when I do my weekly “special” Monday night grocery shopping.


My favorite Hearty Vegetable Soup... and yes, the Pepper Mill!


Unike other patrons who request to sample each and every soup offering at the store (which the staff politely and so graciously offer), I’ve stuck to just one – the Hearty Vegetable – which to me was more like their own version of the classic Minestrone.  Minestrone, after all, is soup made from a variety of vegetables, with lots of tomatoes and flavored with generous dashes of Italian seasoning (think rosemary, thyme, basil, etc.).  I love how they make their Hearty Vegetable Soup.  They always serve it piping hot (not quite but almost boiling!).  And it has always been chockful with chunks of fresh vegetables – cubes of golden potatoes, diced tomatoes, Spanish onions, and celery stalks.  As I would always like my soup “hot and spicy,” I asked for ground (white) pepper.  The staff went a notch higher by offering me the pepper mill instead!  Now that was something!  You see, one thing I like about cooking is the chance to freshly crack pepper over my dish.  There’s something about cranking the head of a pepper mill that feels chef-like to me.  The sight of a dusting of pepper that just got crushed through the mill, on the surface of my soup, fills my soul.  Weird?!  To accompany my soup, quite overkill, I would always ask for a cup of their really Hot Chocolate for my drink!


Obviously, this is The Soup Kitchen's Hot Chocolate. Frothy!


I usually ask for my soup to come with warmed Cheese Bread (more like a semolina bun!).  But that night, for the first time, I asked for half of their Crabstick Sandwich.  And was I in for a pleasant surprise!  I devoured the sandwich and struggled if I would ask for another half (bummer that I asked for just half!).  Hahaha!  The grainy wheat bread was moist and preserved well by the saran wrap.  The mangoes were fresh, soft and sweet, providing the perfect counterpoint to the mayonnaise (taste-wise) and the sole crisp lettuce leaf (texture-wise).  But the star of the sandwich was the crabstick!  And I know my crabstick.  I would even buy frozen packs for when I feel like making myself my own “kani” sashimi or sushi at home.  The ones The Soup Kitchen used were topnotch.  The flakiness was as close to real crab meat as crabsticks could get.  The red stain was not off-putting.  And most importantly, the flavor was just how a tub of freshly picked Maine crabmeat would taste – sweet with the slightest hint of saltwater.


The Soup Kitchen's Crabstick Sandwich (half). Worth coming back for!



Doesn't this crabstick sandwich want you to just lick it?



...and bite it?!


From Bacolod City – Bob’s Bakery Café’s Pavlova

9 04 2009


ONE THING I have always been thankful for is being on the receiving end of other people’s kindness.  In mid-March, one of our engineers (John Francis) kept telling me to be on stand by for something he wanted me to try.  I think it took about a week of almost constant reminders from him.  And I have to say, with every mention, my mouth watered and my curiosity got piqued all the more.


And I didn’t even know what I was in for!



On a lunch break from a day-long training, he approached me and handed me a box that finally revealed to me – almost revealed! – what my palate was in for.  The box said, “BOB’S BAKERY CAFE.”  And even before I could tug at the ends of the environmentally sound biodegrable ribbon, the giver told me that it was (lovingly) hand-carried by his girlfriend on a flight back from one of the queen cities of the south – Bacolod City!


Now, how could one not feel thankful about that?!



Opening the box, the object of curiosity finally really revealed itself to be a classic – the Pavlova.  I opined to the giver that beyond being a dessert consisting of a meringue base slathered with whipped cream and filled with some kind of fruit, the Pavlova is actually a dessert named after the famed Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova!  He was kind of surprised that I knew that bit of trivia.  Oh well, I guess it pays to be a voracious reader.  Just some tricks I could pull from my magician’s hat when the moment was right for it.



I learned that Bob’s Bakery Café is an institution in Bacolod City.  I’ve only been to that city once, for a couple of days when I spoke to the ECE graduating class and conducted interviews at the University of St. La Salle.  The only local delicacy stop we made was to a hole-in-the-wall place that specialized on something called “inipit” (layers of sponge with a cream filling).  Clearly not to Bob’s Bakery Café.  So I was so glad I would finally get to try one of their specialties.


Before anything else, I have to say that this Pavlova was quite sturdy, having been able to withstand air travel and come out of it, not only alive, but really “standing tall.”  It was a proud stack of four meringue layers, sandwiching in between a stain of mango puree, thick slather of whipped cream, and really generous layers of sliced ripe mangoes.  The top was beautifully finished with crushed meringue and slivers of almonds.  It looked so much more like a work of art that I couldn’t get to slice through it.  But then again, the flesh was weak – and Spider-man was waiting too!  Hahaha!


Spider-man beams at the sight of Bob's Bakery Café's Pavlova!


The one best thing about Bob’s Pavlova was that it wasn’t sweet at all.  I mean, in an annoying way it wasn’t.  The sweetness was actually playfully shy – teasing even – that I found myself just taking forkfuls.  The mangoes were really fresh, bursting with the actual sweet component that blended well with the “creaminess” of the whipped cream.  The texture of the meringue was at first a little fluffy, then it became more chewy.  But it was never like taffy at all.  That would’ve been disaster to me.  Bob’s Pavlova was unlike that.  The texture of the meringue allowed for the four layers to stand firm without crushing the one at the bottom.  A part of me was actually half-expecting to open the box and see a dessert or a cake that suffered from all the handling.


The slice standing went to Stave Michael.


But Bob’s Pavlova was a testament to pastry skills that give forth a dessert that was truly an achievement in form and in substance.  How I wish I could easily get it from here on a whim!  I would’ve wanted to keep the pavlova to myself.  But I guess, I’d rather earn brownie points (from Spider-man!) for sharing.  Hahaha!




Back at one

8 04 2009


So this is what it feels like to take a hiatus of sorts.


Of the many definitions I could give the word “hiatus,” the one I think best describes what happened to me is an interruption in the intensity, amount, or frequency of my blog posts.  Seriously, I thought nobody would notice that I haven’t been posting lately.   This, especially since when I started this blog, I was just hoping against hope that at most three superheroes (a bat, a spider  and someone really super!), a “summit,” a special “friendship” and a dependable “partner” would keep traffic on my site.  So that’s about six hits per day – at best.


But I thought wrong.  Lately, I’ve gotten a lot of text messages, e-Mails and instant messages asking what was wrong that I haven’t been posting lately.  Even my energy level has been so down – not even many invitations to jump in party planning mode (for a lot of things happening this April) could shake me out of being distraught with the intense sorrow that I feel.  As some of you may well know, I have been feeling nothing short of being shot with a hollow-point bullet that fragmented upon impact, bloomed inside me…  and cut me into pieces inside out.


But life has to go on.  If the people with whom I empathize have been picking up the pieces, so to speak, all the more that I should.


But I know that the worst feeling is yet to come.  I will just see myself through this calm before the storm.  And when the time comes, I will wallow in the moment as the joy in my life ebbs away.